Minister of Information Moses Kalonga Shawa Kunkuyu today has told journalists that government will not sell the state-of-the-art Mercedes Benz which were bought with donor funding during the tenure of the late Bingu wa Mutharika. This is a complete U-turn to the pledge that President Mrs. Joyce Banda made when she assumed office in April this year of her intention to dispose of the limousines, indicating they are not necessary for a struggling economy like Malawi.
The purchase of the limos by the late Mutharika drew donor anger mainly from the UK government who reciprocated by cutting aid to the impoverished southern Africa country. Late Bingu also attracted donor dissent when his government bought a presidential jet.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Ministry of Economic Planning, the government spokesperson said government has no plans to sell the luxury car as ministers and other government officials are using the fuel-guzzling cars for the time being. He said government would like to maintain the cars as there is a great need for ministers and top government officials to travel in and out the administrative capital on government assignments.
According to Kunkuyu selling of the cars would mean that government has to buy new car for ministers which would be expensive arguing that the present state of the country’s economy cannot afford replacing the cars.
This is a second U-turn by the Joyce Banda government on its earlier stand of undoing what was considered to be late wa Mutharika’s ‘extravagance’. Alongside the decision to sell the expensive-to-maintain cars, President Joyce Banda also pledged to sell the presidential jet to cut on costs. This, (selling the jet) has been reversed opting instead, to lease it out while she travels on commercial airlines.
Her decision on disposing off the jet and limousines received international applause mainly from the donor community led by the British government. It is yet to be seen how the donors would receive such a reversal.